Telfair Museum of Art

Savannah, GA



Hard Knocks, Hardship and A lot of Experience: The Maritime Art of William O. Golding

March 14 - May 28, 2000


"Hard Knocks, Hardship and A lot of Experience: The Maritime Art of William O. Golding" represents the first major museum exhibition devoted to the art of self-taught African-American artist William O. Golding (1874-1943). Kidnapped at the age of 8 from the Savannah waterfront in 1882, Golding became a cabin boy on board a sailing ship, and later made numerous voyages to far-flung corners of the globe during a career at sea that spanned almost 50 years. (left: Chefoo, China, 1939, pencil and crayon on paper, Private collection)

Golding's reputation rests on a group of approximately 60 color drawings made during the years 1932-1939, while he was a patient at the Marine Hospital in Savannah. Golding (whose birth name may have been Golden) was 59 and suffering from bronchitis and other ailments when he was encouraged to draw from memory by the hospital's recreation director, Margaret Stiles, a member of the Savannah Art Club. (right: U.S.S. Isendaga, 1934, pencil on paper, 8 3/4 x 11 3/4 inches, Collection of Rita Trotz)

Golding's fanciful color drawings primarily depict ships he had seen or served on, and views of exotic ports. His images range from views of the Savannah harbor to scenes of sailing ships chasing whales in the Arctic, South Seas ports featuring erupting volcanoes, and remembered renditions of Chinese architecture. Golding's work relates not only to maritime painting but also to the phenomenon of memory painting in self-taught art.

Although Golding's art has been shown and published, this exhibition of 42 drawings loaned from private and public collections, marks the first major museum survey of his work. (left: U.S.S. Constitution, 1933, pencil, 8 3/4 x 11 3/4 inches, Collection of Rita Trotz)

On Wednesday, March 22 at 12:30 p.m., Senior Curator of Education Harry DeLorme will present a free lecture, "The Art of William O. Golding: A Black Seaman Remembers" at the Telfair.

Thanks to a grant from The City of Savannah Department of Cultural Affairs/Leisure Services Bureau, the Telfair will be open free to the public the week of May 21-28, 2000.

Read more about the Telfair Museum of Art in Resource Library Magazine

For further biographical information please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

Please click on thumbnail images bordered by a red line to see enlargements.

rev. 1/15/11

Search Resource Library for thousands of articles and essays on American art.

Copyright 2011 Traditional Fine Arts Organization, Inc., an Arizona nonprofit corporation. All rights reserved.